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NASA: MAVEN mission probes 'water-escaping' occurrences on Mars

By Brian Ang | Oct 21, 2016 11:07 AM EDT

It is fascinating to know that water in Mars does not entirely escape into space. An investigation into this matter has driven NASA to send a mission on the Red Planet.

For the last two years, the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) space vessel has been gathering information in order to produce a result that will settle the riddle once and for all. What the mission found out is the instability of the water state on Earth's neighbor.

Scientists unveil that the rate of water escaping on Mars was at its peak when the celestial body is nearest to the sun. If the Red Planet is farthest, the water spill is at its lowest. Ultraviolet radiation plays a vital role during the process.

Such observations divulge that water movement actually happens on Mars. The situation has an immediate impact. Hydrogen slips ten times more at its maximum point. This scenario occurs in the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet where water vapor is present. When sunlight penetrates into the primary layer of the celestial body, the water molecule disintegrates. Along the way, the oxygen and the two hydrogen atoms split from each other. The escape process is on.

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In order to understand the water cycle on Mars, there is a need to observe closely how the planet's atmosphere behaves. The amount of oxygen and hydrogen on the surface is very limited. In place of these elements are ozone piles which result from the chemical reactions on Mars's outer layer. High-latitude winds play a crucial role in carrying the atoms across the celestial body.

Based on the photos captured by the MAVEN spacecraft, the ozone builds up on the polar vortex where a very limited amount of water vapor is seen. This development is damaging to the layer.

Mars low surface gravity will also factor in. With such a less considerable force, water vapor, which is 30 times less than Earth's atmospheric concentration, cannot be stopped from heading into space.

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